Global’s compelling new original series Mary Kills People is set to debut this Wednesday, January 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The six-part series stars Caroline Dhavernas (Hannibal and Off The Map) as Dr. Mary Harris, an ER doctor who moonlights as an underground angel of death — helping terminally ill patients who want to die and slip away on their own terms.
The Canadian series is created and co-executive produced by Tara Armstrong. Rookie Blue creator Tassie Cameron also serves as an executive producer. Additional cast members include Ryan Short (Vinyl) as Des, Jay Ryan (Beauty and the Beast) as Joel, Lyric Bent (Rookie Blue) as Frank and Greg Bryk (Bitten) as Grady.
The TV Watercooler had the opportunity to chat with Dhavernas about what drew her to the complex role, cast chemistry and more.
What drew you to this role?
I think that a lot of actors look for grey zones in characters… Mary certainly has complex thoughts, contradictions and a lot more. The subject matter was also appealing. It’s a bit of a coincidence that Tara [Armstrong; the show’s creator and writer] started working on this before the law changed here in June. Although our series takes place in a fictional city somewhere in North America where assisted suicide is still illegal, I still think that it’s a very important debate to have as a society. The show does a very well at that because it explores every angle of the debate. They’ve also done a great job at bringing humour to the series because it all can’t be dark all the time, right? Especially when you are around people who are going through their final moments. It’s very cathartic and intense. But like after every funeral you attend, you want to feel alive, have some fun and laugh.
There’s great banter between Mary and Des. How did you get to know Ryan Short?
He was one of the first actors that I met on the show and we got along instantly. He’s so great. He’s fun and a wonderful actor. It’s the same way with Jay Ryan (Joel). He’s very talented and gorgeous. It was easy.
The production model for this series is a bit different. The six-episode format is very similar to British series. Do find that shorter story arcs and more character development work best with this model, especially when establishing a new show?
It’s certainly my preference as a viewer because I like that it doesn’t ask for the type of commitment that a show with 20 or more episodes in its first season asks for. As an actor, it’s fun to be doing a show for a couple of months and then you can still have the rest of your time for travelling and working on other things. I think that for me, it’s healthier. I was quite happy to be able to dive into the challenge of being the lead of a show and then know I would still have a life at the end of the day.
Will we see how Mary and Des got into this “business” — are they in it for the financial gain or do they really just want to help people?
You’ll learn more about their past and their motivations throughout the series. Mary’s are more personal, I think. She’s been through things in her past which has convinced her that people should have the right to choose. She know this more than anyone. Des, meanwhile, has his own set of reasons. He’s a recovering heroin addict and an ex-doctor. He’s had a very complicated life as well. They have each other. They certainly can’t talk to anyone else about what they do, because it’s illegal. So she leads a double life with her family and friends. Mary and Des’ relationship is very important in the show.
Mary’s the mother of a teenage daughter. How would you imagine that revelation going?
It’s going to eventually be very complex for any teenager who is trying to understand the motivations. Mary and Jess (played by Abigail Winter) will certainly have their tensions. I think that Mary could be there more for this crucial part of her daughter’s development, but she’s so busy. Jess will feel that she can’t confide in her mother and tell her everything that she’s doing or exploring.
There are some big Rookie Blue connections on this show. Charlotte Sullivan will also be appearing as Mary’s sister, Nicole.
They’ll have a very strong bond because they grew up together. The father was never there. The mother was very sick. They are very close and have been through things that no one else has. While they have this close relationship, her sister doesn’t know about everything… But will know her well enough to guess what’s happening and how intense Mary’s life is.
Mary Kills People premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global. Click here to watch a sneak peek. The series has been picked up by Lifetime in the U.S. and will air later this year.